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Pain in any form is, well, a pain.
Whether you’ve twisted your ankle working out or are dealing with a more long-lasting type of pain, anything that keeps you from doing the things you enjoy takes a big toll on your life, both physically and mentally. Yet pain is a very present part of our lives. According to estimates from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, roughly 10% of U.S. adults have used pain medication in the past 30 days. Some pain may dissipate on its own, but some may require attention from a clinician. So how do you know when to manage pain on your own or get medical attention? Use this guide to understand your pain and find the best treatment to get you back to your routine.
Pain can feel differently depending on the person and their level of pain tolerance. However, there are some important distinctions to make when it comes to pain.
Per research published in the journal Pain, a pain that lasts three to six months (even if not continuous) is considered chronic pain. Approximately 20% of people worldwide deal with chronic pain, and the issue accounts for 15% to 20% of physician visits. If you find your pain is not improving over time, it’s important to speak to a clinician to discuss your symptoms and figure out the cause. That’s not to say you must wait three to six months to speak to a clinician. Any pain at any time warrants medical attention. Log on to the app and let us know what’s bothering you. We can help with relief, remedies, and next steps if needed.
You know you’re in pain, but you’re unsure if it warrants chatting with a clinician. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), some red flags that your pain needs medical attention, no matter the timeline, include:
Remember: It’s important to go to a clinician when you’re feeling well, so that they have a baseline on your health. That way, when pain does pop up, they’ll be able to quickly determine why and how to treat it.
Depending on your type of pain (i.e., Where does it hurt? Did it happen because of an injury or just appear?) there are several tests a clinician may do. According to Weill Cornell Medicine, some diagnostic tests may include:
Pain treatment is an ever-evolving field, with new remedies developed and tested constantly. Per guidelines published in the journal Annals of Family Medicine, based on your pain diagnosis a clinician may recommend one or several of the following measures:
Additional options can include:
For acute pain that isn’t stemming from a serious injury, trauma, or infection, there are ways you can relieve symptoms without a trip to the pharmacy. The most popular form of DIY treatment is known as RICE, and according to the AAFP it stands for:
OTC medication is often used with PRICE to speed up symptom relief as well. Have questions about a specific type of pain you're experiencing? Our first tip: don't turn to the internet. Chat with a nurse for free instead. Open the app and let us know how you’re doing, and we’ll work to develop a customized care plan to rid your pain for good.